From Salto Acaima we still had about a hundred kilometers ahead of us to get to Angel Falls, so we got up before the sun and started our journey up the Rio Carrao river in a motorized pirogue. The journey was said to take 3 hours in the wet season (may-sept) but could take as much as 10 hours when we were there as it was in the dry season.
The road up the river was the highlight of my Venezuela trip. The mountains next to the river reminded me of pictures I had seen from Roraima national park, with steep mountains that were flat on top and had small waterfalls running down on the side, almost like in the movie Avatar.
Along the way we had to get off several time to push the boat up the rapids. We also stopped at a local home to taste bread and beer made from yukka roots (similar to yam, cassava etc) and had a good break for lunch at a beach. The total time for us to get up to the camp was 5,5 hours and when we got to the camp and saw the waterfall, all the being wet, freezing, sunburned, and tired from pushing the boat etc was forgotten. We made camp, where we could see the falls right from the hammocks we were sleeping in.
On our second day by the falls we did a one hour walk to get to the first viewpoint, then fourty minutes more to the second viewpoint and finally ten more minutes to get a swim in the waters in front of it. Angel Falls has been one of my best travel experiences ever and I will keep my fingers crossed that the situation will not get worse in Venezuela so that I can return to see the falls again in july/august.
Getting to Angel Falls is not an easy task, but I was lucky enough to get to tag along on a group of five who had arranged a private transfer with a Range Rover from Caracas to Puerto Ordaz, which was a 600km/10 hour car ride with several police stops along the way. After dark advised us to get a hotel room for the night, but instead we pushed through and arrived Puerto Ordaz at 10pm.
Arepas, Cachapas and Golfeados- delicious Venezuelan street food!
The next morning we were up early to make our flight which was supposed to leave around 8am, but did not leave before 1pm. Restaurants were not open at that time, so we went to a grocery store to get snacks- that was when I realized that shops in Venezuela have a lot of a few goods, and nothing of the things that are hard to come by (maybe because the trade sanctions) like shampoo and deoderant. That is probably also why parts of the shelves were stuffed while other parts were completely empty. Price tags were taped over and rewritten as the inflation made them being changed daily.
The plane was one of the smaller ones I have ever traveled with, and the noise from the propellars made it impossible to watch a movie on the hour long flight like I planned, but that was a good thing as the view from it was amazing. There were mountain formations very similar to the ones at Roraima national park and sitting in the front seat I was able to look over the shoulder of the pilot. The return flight from Puerto Ordaz to Canaima cost 92 dollars which was almost worth it just for the view from the air.
Photo creds: Our guide Karla on the left
Canaima National Park, most famous for having the Worlds highest waterfall, is situated in the Bolivar state, just an hour flight south of Puerto Ordaz. The planes land right by a lagoon where the Rio Carrao split into five large waterfalls perfect for a day of exploring.
First off was Salto Acaima, in the picture above, where there was about a meter and a half of space under the waterfall so that we could barely sneak under it, before we climbed up on the side to Salto Gorandrin which gave us a beautiful view over the lake and bungalows surrounding it. From there we could walk over to Salto Solondrina where we could jump from 5-6 meters into the lake.
The highlight of our waterfall exploring was Salto Hacha though. A waterfall with red and yellow water flowing over a huge area where we could stand and feel the power of the thousands of liters of water flowing through every minute.
Including the Wakü Lodge and the Ara Meru Lodge, but we were staying at a less known and cheaper place that I cannot remember the name of, but it is close to the bar and is run by Peter and his lovely family.
There are very few times that I have felt a complete change of culture as I did when crossing from Haiti to the Dominican Republic.
People were light skinned instead of black, spoke Spanish instead of French, it was quiet and clean instead of messy and chaotic. Prices were higher and the roads were better. This was a place for having a holiday.
When checking in at my hostel I was told that there was an outdoor salsa concert going on at the San Fransisco ruins, and just an hour later I was heading there together with a group of new friends who I had just met at the hostel.
I got to explore the old city and Zona Colonial a lot with my pennyboard while being there. The streets were so smooth that it almost felt that they were made for skateboarding. The second evening we went to a “…..” which is like a small grocery store with beer, booze and all kinds of snacks where also the locals go for a cheap drink and watch baseball games.
Santo Domingo is a place that I think have a good balance of safety, price, familiarity and friendliness and is a place I would love to live in for a couple of months if I ever manage to find a job that I can do on the road
In order to break up my journey from Punta Cana to Santo Domingo I decided to stop for a night in Bayahibe, a town near La Romana on the Caribbean side of the island. It was different from both Bavaro and Macao. There were quite a lot of tourists, but most seemed to be there on a day trip from Punta Cana as the village is the gateway to Saona Island.
There were no waves in the ocean, nor were there big resorts- Bayahibe was more of a charming little city with more small cafés and guesthouses. There was not much to see, other than the beach, the clear turquise waters and the many smal cliff formations so after a few strolls up and down along the ocean it was time to move on and get back to the capital, Santo Domingo.